SECURE SYNOPSIS: 14 July 2017
NOTE: Please remember that following ‘answers’ are NOT ‘model answers’. They are NOT synopsis too if we go by definition of the term. What we are providing is content that both meets demand of the question and at the same time gives you extra points in the form of background information.
General Studies – 1;
Topic: Role of women and women’s organization, population and associated issues, poverty and developmental issues, urbanization, their problems and their remedies
1) Critically examine salient features of the Unorganised Workers’ Social Security Act, 2008, (UWSSA) and the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013, and their role in addressing problems being faced by ‘domestic helps’ in India. (200 Words)
The unorganised workers, such as wage labour, home based workers or self-employed workers, with their dependents account for the bulk of our population contribute to two thirds of our national product and form 93% of our workforce. Thus it becomes very important to critically analyse the work protection provided to the labour from unorganised sector.
Features of Unorganised Workers’ Social Security Act, 2008
- Unorganised Workers’ Social Security Act 2008 is an Act of the Parliament of India enacted to provide for the social security and welfare of the unorganised workers.
- The Unorganised workers mean home-based workers, self-employed workers or daily-wage workers.
- The act provides for constitution of National Social Security Board at the Central level.
- The board will recommend formulation of social security schemes viz life and disability cover, health and maternity benefits, old age protection and any other benefit as may be determined by the Government for unorganised workers.
- As a follow up to the implementation of the Act, the National Social Security Board was set up on 18 August 2009.
Critique of the act:
- The definition of the term “self-employed worker” in section 2(k) and of the term “wage worker” of the Act provide for limits to be prescribed by the government for monthly earnings or of extent of land holdings or of monthly wage only strengthens the suspicion that the act is essentially designed to cover BPL workers.
- This law which does not deal with this issue of employment, its regulation, wages, conditions of work, and so on will be not merely incomplete but dysfunctional if it proceeds to deal with social security on a standalone basis.
- The issues relating to regulation of employment, fixation of wages keeping in mind that in the unorganised sector bulk of the payments are on a piece rate basis, and conditions of work will vary considerably from sector to sector and therefore there is need to group all allied occupations and employments into separate sectors and set up Boards for each such sector.
- The term “Unorganised Sector” restricts the coverage to those enterprises employing workers who number less than 10. This numerical limit may raise problems.
- There is no specific definition of term “Social Security” and “Family” which barring the unorganised labour class to get the benefits that are covered by the ILO Convention on minimum standards of social security accrue to the worker and his family.
Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act:
As a first step towards prevention and prohibition of sexual harassment at workplace, Supreme Court of India in Vishaka v. State of Rajasthan, in the year 1997, laid down guidelines for prevention of sexual harassment at work places until the government came up with a legislation.The Government of India, in the year 2013, legislated Sexual Harassment Act. The Act incorporates guidelines issued in Vishaka case by Supreme Court of India.
The Act states its objectives as prevention of violation of fundamental rights of a woman employee under article 14 (equal protection under the laws), article 15 (prohibition of discrimination on race, caste, religion, sex, etc.) and article 21 (protection of life and personal liberty) of the Constitution of India.
- Wide and comprehensive definition of sexual harassment.
- Every employer employing 10 more employees would need to constitute an internal complaints committee for the purpose of grievance redressal mechanism. The Internal Committee would comprise of employees and a member of non-government organisation.
- Timely procedure: The process for inquiry of compliant filed by an aggrieved woman employee would need to be completed within a period of 90 days from the date of filing of compliant with the Committee.
- The Act specifically enlists the following as the duties of employer such as Provide a safe working environment; Display at a conspicuous place the penal consequences for sexual harassment, Organise workshops for employees and orientation programs for the Committee and Assisting the secure attendance of offender and witness.
Critique of the act:
- The main criticism of this act is it gender biasedness. Any kind of sexual harassment with anyone working either it is male or female must be curtailed down. There has to be the legal provision for protection of Male workforce as well.
- The other main lacuna is that, this law excludes the domestic workers and Agricultural labourers. This legal provision has missed the large number of vulnerable population by not addressing the issues faced by rural woman agricultural labourers.
- Landmark legislative piece do not take into account the domestic worker under its ambit of protection.
Domestic help and need of protection
- The 2011 NSSO data put the number of domestic workers at 3.9 million and the trade unions estimate the number to be around 10 million. This shows the huge size of population involved in this activity.
- The peculiar nature of the population involved highlights its possible vulnerability as well. Most of these are from vulnerable communities – Adivasis, Dalits or landless OBCs. Nearly all of them are migrant workers. And an overwhelming number are women.
- Neither of the above mentioned acts recognises domestic helps as rights-bearing workers. This denies their right for social security instruments such as pension and on job safety measures. This recognition is a necessary pre-condition for state regulation.
- This area of work has become feminized over the period of time. The work has no reputation and generally considered as a menial work in exchange of some amount.
The National Platform for Domestic Workers has submitted a draft bill on the Domestic Workers Regulation of Work and Social Security Bill, 2016. The bill can ensure Domestic Workers Regulation of Work and Social Security for large number of people.
General Studies – 2
Topic: Parliament and State Legislatures – structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges and issues arising out of these
2) Decades after the Indian republic’s founding, its Parliament, which should have been at its heart, has diminished in stature rather than evolving and maturing. Do you agree? Critically comment on the statement. (200 Words)
That representative democracy and parliamentary institutions have endured in India for five decades is a great tribute to their strength and resilience. There has, however been in recent years quite some thinking and debate about decline of Parliament, devaluation of parliamentary authority, falling standards of debate, deterioration in the conduct and quality of Members, poor levels of participation and the like. A certain cynicism towards parliamentary institutions and erosion in the respect for normal parliamentary processes and the parliamentarians present a disturbing scenario.
The nation-state of India has quite a few things to flaunt and be proud of – its rich legacy of democracy and Parliamentary form of governance being some of them.
Indian Parliament has many successes. Indian parliament has provided us many progressive laws such as RTI, Right to Education etc.
Parliament is a platform for our chosen representatives to discuss many challenges; we are facing and making policies on these problems.
Following are the issues and reforms linked with the Indian parliament:
- Effective working of parliamentary committees: The Committees could, strengthen the Government by providing valuable insights into its own working, provide to Parliament sharper and more effective surveillance tools and restore the balance between Parliament’s legislative and deliberative functions and its role as a representational body, above all, save valuable parliamentary time to the advantage both of Parliament and the Government.
- Codifying Parliamentary Privileges: In a democratic society any privileges for a section of the people are anachronistic, any undefined privileges like the privileges of Parliament are even more so. It is, therefore of the utmost importance that the weapon of parliamentary privileges is used with great circumspection.
- Reforming the functions of Parliamentary Parties: It is the duty of Parties in Parliament to train and guide their members, to advise them on political, economic, social and procedural problems coming up before Parliament from time to time.
- Reorganising Parliamentary Time Table: Parliament must perform its oversight role and its weapons of open debate, scrutiny and accountability should not be blunted. It has also to be seen that time consuming procedures do not hamper the smooth transaction of public business.
- The Petitions Committee: It needs to be strengthened and put to greater use. It has tremendous potential as a substitute or supplementary to the Ombudsman institution.
- Absenteeism of Members: Absenteeism of Members threatens to become a serious malady. The quorum requirement is often ignored by not questioning the quorum. Suggestions have sometimes been made for reducing the present minimum (1/10th) to constitute the quorum. What is required is ensuring better and longer attendance by the Members in the Houses of Parliament.
- Independence and impartiality of the secretariats of the two Houses and their officers and staff are absolutely necessary for the success of the system. The Secretariats of Parliament need the very best staff.
- Other Procedural Reforms: Precedents and conventions may not be allowed to become shackles to imprison and destroy the institution. Procedures must keep pace with the changing needs of the national economy, composition of Membership and the prevailing mood of the Members. On the other hand, it has to be appreciated that the use of various procedural devices to engage the attention of the House calls for a certain restraint.
While we can legitimately proud of the reasonably successful working of Parliament during the last five decades, Parliament is relevant only as a dynamic institution ever adjusting its functions and procedures to the changing needs of the times. If democracy and freedom are to endure, if representative institutions are to be made impregnable and if the new economic reforms and an all-round effort at liberalisation are to bear fruits, it is essential to restore to Parliament and its Members their traditional esteem and honour in the affections of the people. Reforming the Parliament in essential respects is already a categorical imperative. An integrated approach to political and economic systems reforms is necessary. No single reform can provide a miracle cure.
Topic: India and its neighborhood- relations
With the democratic transition taking place in Myanmar, India is in process to strengthen the bilateral relations with the Myanmar. With the increasing geopolitical tensions in the region, Myanmar can emerge as important players in the region.
Importance of Myanmar for India-
- Myanmar has a big border with China in the North, contiguous with the Sino- Indian disputed border. Military analysts can gauge the various strategic complications that arise from such a configuration in case Myanmar is under unfriendly influence.
- Myanmar bridges South Asia and India with South-East Asia. It also acts as a buffer between India’s North Eastern States and the Southern provinces of China.
- Myanmar provides the Eastern littoral of the Bay of Bengal. An unfriendly Myanmar hosting foreign naval presence would be a grave threat to India’s security.
- Geo-politically, with a friendly Myanmar, India could add more substance to her ‘Look East’ policies of building up relationships with South East Asia, as Myanmar shares common borders with Laos and Thailand. With no contentious issues looming over India-Myanmar relations, a viable strategic partnership is more easily achievable. This can counter-act the negative image being propagated that India is unfriendly with her neighbours.
- Trade and commerce-
- Bilateral trade has grown from $12.4 million in 1980-81 to $2.18 billion in 2013-14. Agricultural items like beans and pulses and forest based products make up nearly 90% of India’s imports.
- Though the trade between the two countries is growing slowly, its way below its potential. Thus India could increase its export in rapidly growing markets of Myanmar and could also provide outlet for the North-Eastern India.
- Prospects for investments–
- Geo-economically, Myanmar is rich in natural resources and has appreciable production of crude oil, and natural gas. It has sizeable deposits of copper, lead, tin, tungsten, steel and gold. Some of these especially crude oil and natural gas could be an attraction for India, being next door.
- As there has been little development in terms of infrastructure and private industry, its future economic prospect looks very promising. There is a huge, underdeveloped market to be explored and exploited, and gigantic infrastructure projects to be built, to modernise the country. All this is very promising for foreign investors.
- Some of the Indian companies like Essar, GAIL, ONGC Videsh Limited have invested in Myanmar’s energy sector. Tata motors has set up a heavy turbo truck assembly plant with financial assistance from India government.
- Development of North-East region-
- India’s North-East region does not only shares border with Myanmar, but also culture, history and ethnicity. Myanmar can accelerate the rapid development of North-East through bilateral relations.
- India is working on Kaladan Project that would connect Kolkata port with Sittwe port that would in turn provide connectivity to North-East region of India.
- Myanmar is critical for maintaining stability and peace in Northeast India. Some Northeast Indian insurgent groups operate out of bases across the border. Therefore, responding to the groups mandates cooperation and consent of the Myanmar army.
- Huge number of people from Myanmar visit to the North East from medical reasons and North East could emerge as destination for medical tourism for Myanmar.
- The proposed India-Myanmar-Thailand Friendship Highway can unleash the vast developmental opportunities for North-East region.
- India-ASEAN relations-
- Myanmar is connecting link between India and ASEAN. Thus Myanmar is poised to play important role in developing the strong economic bonds between the two.
- The proposed India-Myanmar-Thailand Friendship Highway can be extended to Malayan peninsula and may prove turning point for the future of whole South and South-East Asia.
For Asian security architecture-
- Myanmar is strategically located with respect to Asia’s geo-political importance. It has borders with the China in the North, India in the East, Malayan peninsula in the South, Indo-Chins peninsula in the South-East and opening in the Bay of Bengal. Thus Myanmar can play influential role in the security and Stability of the region, particularly South and South-East Asia.
- The insurgency groups in Myanmar can destabilize the region and worsen the relations between neighboring countries. Hence it would imperative for Burmese government also other countries to cooperate in eliminating the terror threats that can emerge from Myanmar’s territory.
- Asian nations in the South, South-East and East Asia should cooperate to find amicable solution for the Rohingya issue in Myanmar and to prevent human rights violation in the Rakhine state of Myanmar.
- Myanmar has easy access to critical strait of Malacca and Indian Ocean, hence friendly relations with the Myanmar are imperative for the countries who depend on the maritime trade through these ocean bodies.
- With the transition from military rule to democratic state, Myanmar has ended its international isolation. Thus Myanmar is eager to diversify its military needs and to reduce its dependence on China. In such situation, India, Japan, Indonesia etc may enter the race to provide arms and weapons to Myanmar.
As global politics is increasingly becoming multipolar, India will have to strengthen its multi-alignment strategy involving major powers, middle powers and others such as Myanmar. In spite of its current economic and military status, Myanmar—located between China, India and Southeast Asian countries—can soon emerge as an important pillar in the India’s and Asian security architecture.
Topic: mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections
Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2016 attempts to bring the community into the mainstream. Decades after the Indian Constitution guaranteed the fundamental right to equality, freedom from discrimination on the basis of sex and gender and freedom of speech and expression, transgender persons face problems ranging from social exclusion to discrimination, lack of education facilities, unemployment, lack of medical facilities, to name a few.
Important provisions of the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) bill 2016-
- The Bill defines a transgender person as one who is partly female or male; or a combination of female and male; or neither female nor male. In addition, the person’s gender must not match the gender assigned at birth, and includes trans-men, trans-women, persons with intersex variations and gender-queers.
- A transgender person must obtain a certificate of identity as proof of recognition of identity as a transgender person and to invoke rights under the Bill.
- Such a certificate would be granted by the District Magistrate on the recommendation of a Screening Committee. The Committee would comprise a medical officer, a psychologist or psychiatrist, a district welfare officer, a government official, and a transgender person.
- The Bill prohibits discrimination against a transgender person in areas such as education, employment, and healthcare. It directs the central and state governments to provide welfare schemes in these areas.
- Offences like compelling a transgender person to beg, denial of access to a public place, physical and sexual abuse, etc. would attract up to two years’ imprisonment and a fine.
- The Bill makes the government responsible for chalking out welfare schemes and programmes which are “transgender sensitive, non-stigmatising and non-discriminatory”.
- Noting that it is a crime to push transgender persons into begging or bonded or forced labour, the Bill recognises the rights of transgenders persons to live with their families, not to be excluded from such households and enjoy and use the facilities of those households in a non-discriminatory manner.
Concerns expressed against the certain provisions of the bill-
- The Supreme Court has held that the right to self-identification of gender is part of the right to dignity and autonomy under Article 21 of the Constitution. However, objective criteria may be required to determine one’s gender in order to be eligible for entitlements.
- The Bill states that a person recognised as ‘transgender’ would have the right to ‘self-perceived’ gender identity. However, it does not provide for the enforcement of such a right. A District Screening Committee would issue a certificate of identity to recognise transgender persons.
- The definition of ‘transgender persons’ in the Bill is at variance with the definitions recognised by international bodies and experts in India.
- The Bill includes terms like ‘trans-men’, ‘trans-women’, persons with ‘intersex variations’ and ‘gender-queers’ in its definition of transgender persons. However, these terms have not been defined.
- Certain criminal and personal laws that are currently in force only recognise the genders of ‘man’ and ‘woman’. It is unclear how such laws would apply to transgender persons who may not identify with either of the two genders.
- The Bill does not address the issue of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code. As a result many transgender people are being harassed and punished under the ambit of the law.
- Bill provides for a National Council for Transgender Persons with the union Minister for Social Justice as its ex officio chairperson. A Council, however, lacks the powers of a Commission, which is statutory in nature.
The bill is still pending in the parliament. Government needs to amend some of the provisions that would realize the true objective of mainstreaming the marginalized community. In India, Tamil Nadu has achieved a milestone in ensuring transgender rights by constituting the Aravanis Welfare Board in 2008, providing pensions for the community and creating awareness in schools on gender-variant people by inviting community members and counsellors to talk to students. Thus Union government must take cue from state governments and effect progressive provisions according to it.
General Studies – 3
Topic: Effects of liberalization on the economy, changes in industrial policy and their effects on industrial growth
5) Telecommunications is one sector where the changes have been disruptive and innovative. It is said that these disruptions and innovations have created fluidity in the definitions of market, monopoly and the concept of dominance. In this light, do you think there is a need to take a fresh look at prevailing regulatory Acts if regulators are to be effective in the markets of the future? Analyse. (200 Words)
Introduction :- With more than 1 billion telecom subscribers as on January 31, 2016, the Indian telecom sector, which is the fastest-growing as well as second-largest after China, continues to be on path of recovery. The sector during the past year has seen improvements in various operating parameters like rising MOUs (minutes of usage), increasing tele-density, double-digit growth in Internet subscribers and increasing data-consumption levels. Still various issues point out the need to check present regulatory acts.
There is a need to take fresh look at prevailing regulatory acts because of following reasons :-
- Changed nature of telecom sector :- The telecommunication sector now includes networks, internet services, virtual markets, the Internet of Things, cloud computing and the entire gamut of services using the information highway with innovative approaches to combining voice and data.
- There is multiplicity of bodies and laws :- The key regulatory bodies of the telecom industry are the Department of Telecom which is the licensor, TRAI, which functions as the regulator and TDSAT which is the judiciary body. Section 11(2) mandates TRAI to fix tariffs for all licensed activity. CCI, under the Competition Act, has no powers to fix tariffs. It can only investigate allegations of abuse using the economic analysis of monopolistic competition facilitated by the right to private action (Section 19) unique to the Competition Act. The commission has the right to levy fines but TRAI doesn’t
- Clash between the regulatory authority and the CCI: There are issues regarding overlap between Competition Policy/Law and sector specific regulatory authority. Regulation of an industry has three primary dimensions-technical, economic and competition. These three elements have to be distributed between the sectoral regulation and the CCI.
- The way in which telecom regulation has evolved in India is not proper :- While internationally the trend has been towards a convergence between policymaking and regulation in the hands of the same body, in India, successive governments have sought to create a wider gap between policy (which they insist on retaining) and regulation (which is with TRAI). This separation not just goes against international trends, it goes against the convergence that is taking place in the sector itself.
- Difficulty in marking boundaries :- The digital space of this highway has no boundaries between products and services and between nations at odds with traditional price-cost parameters of competition.
- There are many questions faced by authorities now a days :-
- How to define the relevant product market when the product is free;
- How to demarcate geographic boundaries for viral networks that do not follow national boundaries;
- What constitutes predatory pricing or discrimination
Conclusion :- The Indian telecom industry is witnessing a shift from an era of total monopoly to duopoly and even oligopoly in certain service areas. The dominance of BSNL/MTNL over the incumbent players is existent still mostly due to the clout they enjoy with the regulator the Department of Telecommunications. Fostering a competitive environment in services industries, such as telecommunications, depends largely on an independent, strong regulatory mechanism that derives its legitimacy from statutes that convey well-defined powers, functions and responsibilities. The quality and transparency of regulation and the efficacy of the dispute settlement mechanism remain key factors in attracting investments, which are needed to implement the sweeping changes that stem from convergence, changes in business practices and evolving consumer needs in the telecom sector.
Topic: Storage, transport and marketing of agricultural produce and issues and related constraints; e-technology in the aid of farmers
Introduction :- The government recently cleared US e-commerce giant Amazon’s $500 million investment in the food retail sector. The department of industrial policy and promotion is also expected to soon greenlight similar investment proposals, totalling $195 million, from Bigbasket and Grofers.
How big retailers will help and galvanise Indian agriculture :-
- Such huge giants can the develop the modern supply chains in the agricultural sector, which is currently fragmented and hinges on middlemen.
- big retailers can reach out directly to the small farmers through collectives and bring them into the system. For example, with more than 20 collection centres across the country, Bigbasket procures about 60% of its FFVs directly from farmers. Others big retailers like METRO Cash & Carry, Walmart, Mother Dairy, Reliance Fresh, Heritage and PepsiCo also have similar arrangements.
- The absence of critical infrastructure facilities, such as cold storage for example, amounts to wastage of 30-40% of the country’s total produce every year. Investments in better storage facilities and an overall tightening of the supply chain, including direct procurement from farmers, can go a long way in preventing such wastage, bringing down food inflation and also preparing the Indian farm sector for more exports.
- India is one of the world’s largest producers of fruits and vegetables, yet only about 4% of its FFVs are processed. In comparison, China processes 23% of its produce, Indonesia 50% and Brazil 70%. Big retailers can effectively address this problem.
Working with private sector is need of hour when Indian agriculture is suffering from problems like distress, wastage, lack of infrastructure etc. It’s also required to achieve goals like doubling farmers income, making schemes like SAMPADA and Mega food park a success. Hence giving scope to retailers is a welcome step.
General Studies – 4
Topic: Ethics in personal relations
Introduction :- It is a strong emotional need caused by deprivation in childhood. It is a primitive condition of pain and longing which people often act out in a desperate attempt to fill a void or emptiness. This emptiness is related to the pain of aloneness and separateness and can never realistically be fully satisfied. Feelings of emotional hunger are deep and are like a dull but powerful aching in your insides. It’s a primitive condition of pain and longing that is caused by deprivation and tends to get passed down from one generation to the next.
How is it different from love ?
- Hunger is a powerful emotion, which is both exploitive and destructive to others when it is acted out. Real love nourishes the other person, be it a child or an adult. The real lover is interested in supporting the other person and encourages the unfolding of his or her personality.
- Love is a lasting and deep rooted phenomenon while emotional hunger is may be sudden, intense and short lived varying according to situations.
- Love is about caring others. It teaches to give, enhance, help others while emotional hunger is about one self. Its about feeling loved, wanted.
A parent if emotionally hungry will act in a over protective manner with child. He/she will interfere in child’s life and won’t respect the boundaries while a loving parent will strive to make the child self empowered, developed and will enhance his/her life with care, nourishment and affection.
Topic: Ethics in personal relations
Introduction :- Family is the most important institution in child’s life. It shapes the child in it’s earliest stages of life. Bringing up children is an art which family as an institute inherit since ages. In India families are often idealised as an institute. But if one deeply scrutinise and break up all activities in family we may come across various ethical concerns which needs attentions specially in today’s fast, nuclear family lifestyle.
- Typical abuses and their impact on children :- Children often undergoes and experience many physical abuses while growing. Normal acts of punishments due to parent’s immaturity, conscious or unconscious aggression may sometimes leave deep and long lasting impacts on children’s mind.
- Verbal abuse :- Parent’s hostile attitude are often communicated to children through sarcastic, derisive manner. Derogatory comments may hamper children’s self esteem and self confidence. It may have psychological impact as well.
- Overprotectiveness, intrusiveness, and lack of respect for child’s boundaries :- Such attitude towards children induces an abnormal form of dependency by limiting children’s experience with life and limiting their coping abilities. Parents who lack the understanding regarding children’s needs tend to discourage and even oppose children’s independent interest.
- Emotional hunger may also play a negative and disruptive role in children’s upbringing.
- Parental behaviour :- Children often follow their parents as role models. Hence behaviours, attitudes displayed by parents, acts and decisions taken by them have impact on children. Any act of dishonesty, corruption and bad precedents will mostly be replicated by children.
While all such ethical concerns needs to be taken care of family should not always dictate to children what to do or how to behave. Every child is an individual who will carve out his/her own life. Family’s role is to provide it a direction and help in finding out the path.